Blog » Unleashing the power of data for your business  

Unleashing the power of data for your business  

If you aren’t using data as part of your business’s growth strategy, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity. In this guest blog, Lara Aucamp, Sales Planning, Operations and Analysis Lead at Payfast by Network, shares her passion for data and offers first-hand insights on why you shouldn’t ignore the power of data.  

In the vast expanse of the business world, data often appears as a daunting ocean of numbers, charts and figures. But when used correctly, it can unlock insights that change how we perceive the world around us. In today’s dynamic business environment, leveraging data analytics and visualisation isn’t just an advantage; it’s a necessity that distinguishes the leaders from the followers. 

My relationship with data wasn’t love at first sight. I have a science background and studied Statistics as part of my BSc. I found the numbers boring. I thought of it as a chore that I had to get through before I could get to the fun stuff. But then something happened: I watched a lecture by Hans Rosling. With a few strokes of genius in data visualisation, he debunked myths about the third world, transforming numbers into a vibrant narrative about progress and development. For the first time, I saw data not as a chore but as a canvas, with the power to tell compelling stories, reveal hidden truths, and illuminate the path forward. This was the moment I fell in love with data visualisation, and it fundamentally changed how I approached my work. 

From post-mortem to prevention: the power of live data 

After completing my BSc Degree, I decided not to pursue a career in science, and ended up working in digital advertising. Here, the mantra was optimisation. Yet, too often, optimisation meant looking back at what had happened—conducting a post-mortem of a campaign to understand why it didn’t achieve its potential. It was only when I started building dashboards that allowed me to monitor campaigns in real-time, that I discovered the true power of data. This live view, this pulse on what’s happening right now, grants us what I like to call “optimisation superpowers.” We can tweak, adjust and redirect our efforts instantly, transforming potential failures into success stories. 

But data is not just about collection and monitoring; it’s about understanding and communication. This is where data visualisation comes into play. Throughout my journey, I’ve learned that the effectiveness of visualisation lies not in the complexity of the data it represents but, in its ability, to convey a story simply and compellingly. If a visualisation doesn’t immediately make sense to someone, the fault lies in its design, not in the viewer’s comprehension. Effective visualisations cut through the noise, highlighting what’s truly important, and allowing insights to emerge naturally. 

Tools of the trade: empowering small businesses 

The beauty of today’s digital age is the accessibility of tools that once were the exclusive domain of large corporations. Google’s Looker Studio, for example, is a powerful, free tool that can integrate with virtually any business platform, providing real-time insights into the metrics that matter most to your business. The key is not just in having the tools but in knowing what to measure and how to interpret it. By focusing on the right metrics and building interactive dashboards, even small businesses can gain the insights needed to drive growth and avoid pitfalls. 

The path to success: data-driven decisions 

It’s a well-known fact that many businesses struggle in their initial years, with a significant number not surviving past the five-year mark. However, those that embrace a data-driven approach to decision-making stand a far better chance of not just surviving but thriving. By continuously monitoring performance, understanding what works (and what doesn’t), and being ready to pivot based on real insights, businesses can navigate the uncertain waters of the market with confidence. 

I would urge every business, regardless of size, to view your data not just as numbers in a spreadsheet but as a story waiting to be told. Embrace the tools available to you, dive into the art of data visualisation, and let the insights guide your path forward. Remember, the power to unlock growth and ensure the longevity of your business lies within the data. It’s time to harness that power. 

Data has not only changed the way I work but the way I see the world. It can do the same for you and your business.